Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Mid-Week Video

Oh, it is that time of the week when you need a pick me up. How about a cat dressed as a shark on a roomba? Yep. Job done.

For those of you reading this on a mobile device:

Monday, 4 November 2013

November Photo Challenge Day 3: Sunday Breakfast

Here it is! Day 3 of my photo challenge and the theme was Sunday Breakfast. This breakfast was made and delivered to me in bed by my lovely husband.. Peanut butter and honey on toast. Yum!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

November Photo Challenge Day 2: I Was Framed!

Gosh, since it was raining today, I was stuck indoors and my husband did not want to be photographed (poor fellow - I need to get another model), I had no idea what to do for this. So here is my best attempt.
I Was Framed! - a sad story of a stuffed Totoro framed for the murder of a puppet-finger duck in a French seaside resort. A mystery in the style of Agatha Christie - had she been trapped indoors all day with a grumpy spouse.
(the blood is ketchup. No Toys were hurt during the making of this photo)

November Photo Challenge Day 1: The Weather

The weather.The British weather. Oh how we love to talk about it. Oh how shit it was this week. Storms on Sunday and Monday, wind on Tuesday, rain on Wednesday and who can forget the grey skies and dark nights of Thursday and Friday. In fact as I write this, the wind rages on outside my little flat. I am actually about to go see the movie, Thor: The Dark World at my local multiplex cinema. How appropriate. A film about a superhero named after the God of Thunder. Some of which is set in the UK. I bet it is also set during the month of November. Anyway enough chatter, here is the photo. The Weather (from my office window):

The 30 Day November Photo Challenge

So in an effort to be more creative in my life I am undertaking The 30 Day November Photo Challenge! This challenge is posed by a photographer named Michelle who I once met at a craft event and whose blog I have been following. You can see her work here:

The challenge is:

I am very excited to be using my camera regularly again and now that I have an IPad too (yes! I am now one of the technology advanced), I thought I might try with some photos from that too.

Back to the World of the Living on the Night of the Undead

The last few months have been hellish. September is always one of the busiest periods for me in my job, but this year the beginning of term was extra crazy, with my colleagues and I working well into the evening without breaks or even meals. My husband is also been working extra hard and the strain of such an effort is starting to show. Stress is one of those things that actually does not always really affect you at the time of a crisis or busy period but then a couple weeks or months later you start feel fatigue, sluggish, unwell and emotionally messy. The work schedule of September and a summer full of stressful family obligations ended with October being a month of colds, flu, general tiredness and long bouts of sleep followed by sleeplessness which I can only describe as 'burn out.' I suppose the only lucky aspect of the whole situation was that both my husband and I suffered from the 'burn out' at the same time and so we have spent the rest of October recuperating and taking it easy. I am emerging from the funk and taking a much more philosophical approach to work. As one close friend of mine said to me recently, 'The job is replaceable. You are not.'
My husband is taking a little longer to return to normal life, he still very tired (he attended three political conferences and worked for around 26 days straight with only two days break), but even he is starting to smile again and feel more relaxed. 'Never again' he says and I agree with him.

It does make me wonder about the nature of our modern lives and the stress that its causes us. Most of my friends have or are still suffering from long-term stress at some point during this year. The single friends I have are stressed about not having a partner and the married ones are stressed about the expense of children. The friends who hate their jobs are miserable and the friends that love their jobs are worried about being made redundant during the recession and so working much harder than they should. And all of us, well most of us, are totally and utterly disillusioned about the idea of ever being able to own our own home. Perhaps we are the generation that entered the world with expectations of life that were far too high? Perhaps we embarked on some big stages of life development (such as career progression, marriage, kids, buying a house) during the wrong economic time and a period of massive technological change that society has not caught up with yet.

Either way, it is up to us individually to change our own lives and more importantly, raise our own spirits when opportunities for change do not immediately present themselves. I have always been a big fan of coping with whatever life sends you. Dolly Parton once said 'The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain'.' Taking to heart words of advice from a woman who has had a fair amount of plastic surgery and opened a theme park called Dollywood might be a bit risky, but her words do ring true. You have to experience the bad in life in order to appreciate the good.

In an effort to claw back some of my life from my job, I have been leaving work on time, visiting friends, attending events, reading books, taking photos and even sending a lot of Halloween cards. This week was of course Halloween! The spookiest night of the year! On Thursday we traveled to The Forum in Kentish Town to see Birdy play live. Birdy is a young singer songwriter who first came to fame two years ago when she was 15 years old and covered a song called 'Skinny Love' (a song originally written by an artist called Bon Iver who composed and recorded the song after a particularly messy breakup from his girlfriend).

Birdy's version was a hit, especially after it was revealed how young she was when she recorded it. Her first album was filled with soulful covers and melancholic, but beautiful tunes. Two years later and she is now 17 and her music has only improved. When we saw her perform live on Thursday, both my husband and I felt that her talent and music will only get better as she matures. She has naturally beautiful voice and despite being very small on stage (she is quite short), it was clear, her lungs were very big. Her new music uses a whole band of instruments and is a lot bigger and more dramatic.

Birdy at Kentish Town Forum - Photo by Dan Massie
Photo by Dan Massie
We had a great time at the concert and I loved hearing the songs that I had been listening to for months, sung live. Her accompanying band were very good too and it was nice to do something fun during the week instead of working and the usual household chores! The Kentish Town Forum is a rather strange venue though. Firstly it is huge and decorated like a massive old victorian music hall, with two bars and big booths at the back of the second level. Most of the venue is seats, except for a section in front of the stage that is for standing audience members only. For this concert it was stuffed with people who sat on almost anything, including some stairs to the emergency exit. Throughout the event people were talking the entire time, including one pair of women behind us who spent the whole night complaining about a mutual friend who was absent and subsequently not able to defend herself against their extended tirade of fury. Audience members were constantly dripping in and out of the hall for drinks, snacks, to find friends, to talk to security (who seemed to be conversing on loud walkie talkies) and as soon as Birdy came on stage a million phone cameras popped up as people tried to take photos from more than 10 meters away. At one point I felt like I was viewing Birdy through a dozen tiny screens as a crowd of people in front of me vainly tried to take a good photo using their IPhones. I felt like saying 'Oh for god's sake, just remember the experience, will you! Stop trying to preserve it with a crappy tiny photo!' The velvet-covered seats proved that even too much of angood thing can be bad for you, as after around 4 hours of music and chatter, our butts started to feel sore and our legs got stiff. I have been to my fair share of gigs, but not to one in a good long while and so I think I forgot how many hours you sit around while the venue does sound checks before each performance, how many people talk over the music and how often you have to queue for the toilet. Perhaps I am getting too old for all of this?

The Kentish Town Forum (and the strangely sore velvet seats) - Photo by Dan Massie.
On the way home at Kentish Town Tube Station, I definitely felt too old. Kentish Town Station is an interesting station because not only was it decorated in plants (planted by TFL staff) but it was also decorated for Halloween. It was also besieged by people in Halloween costumes, most of whom were pretty drunk and all of whom were in their early twenties. There was some ingenious costumes, one woman was dressed in the style of the Mexican Day of the Dead (even with a full made up skeleton face). The escalators down to the platform were being repaired so we all bundled in a big crowd down onto the staircase to march down 177 spiral steps into the dark depths of the Northern Line Tube. After about 50 spiral steps, you start to feel a little dizzy and the group of ornately and creepily dressed drunk youngsters behind me (who were much too excited to be travelling on some stairs - one woman was applying fake blood on to her mouth while skipping down the concrete steps) made me feel all of my 30 years. Ah to be young again!...and drunk and dressed flamboyantly!

In fact I have noticed more adults dressed up for Halloween this year. When I was kid, mostly children dressed up for trick or treating. Adults, especially in the UK, did not seem so bothered. But this year, people went all out. On Friday I counted three dead nurses at Baker Street and on Thursday there was a geisha at Waterloo, two ninjas on the Northern Line, a giraffe and crocodile in Kentish Town and six sexy Vampires, complete with blood and fangs on the Jubilee line. Camden was full of inventive costumes. I always prefer costumes that have shown real originality of thought. Anyone can dress up as a 'sexy witch' or a vampire, but the really creative costumes that require time and effort are the ones that I admire most. Of course all week people on both sides of the Atlantic have been posting photos of themselves in their costumes online. Below are my three favourites:
Game of Thrones style costume - obviously the best part of this getup is the baby dressed as a mini dragon.

A very original costume based on the saying 'When Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade'

I love this costume simply because I actually fancy making a huge cardboard house and wearing it about.